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February 15, 2010 at 7:10 PM

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Cypress: Official Black Eye of 2010 Winter Games

Posted by Ron Judd

Nobody at the Vancouver Organizing Committee is to blame for the weather that has beset Cypress "Mountain," the disastrous freestyle ski and snowboard venue that's quickly becoming the Official Black Eye of the 2010 Winter Games.

But they certainly are responsible for everything else going wrong up there.

The rest, we began to learn today, included fans stranded at the venue, shortages of food and shelter, and just basic organization for a large-scale event.

"I went to the women's moguls event at Cypress and I can say from start to finish it
was the worst -organized event i've ever attended, including college
keggers," a reader from Kirkland e-mailed today.

The reader said VANOC sold out bus tickets to the mountain, and failed to match bus tickets to event tickets, while at the same time preventing people from driving up on their own.

At the mountain, fans found a half-mile walk to the actual venue, and faced concession lines of 90 minutes or more.

"We paid face value for the tickets and left after the prelims, skipping the finals altogether," this fan said. "So did many many others who paid upwards of $350 per ticket. People were absolutely livid!"

And this doesn't even include the thousands of fans whose "standing-room" tickets to Monday's snowboard cross were summarily canceled because of unsuitable conditions at the course.

For that, we quote the Vancouver Sun, which reports:

This is the latest round of weather-related problems for Cypress. Snow hauled up the mountain by truck and helicopter was used to build up the runs where the athletes compete, as well as to cover bails of straw to bolster the area where general-admission spectators stand to watch the events. But heavy rain on the weekend washed the snow away, leaving sink holes around the straw that officials deemed unsafe.

VANOC's response? Sorry. But CEO John Furlong went so far as to say the organization doesn't regret choosing Cypress as a venue.

Really? Any sane person would.

VANOC had plenty of warnings about the potential for warm-weather problems at Cypress, which sits at about the same soggy altitude as Snoqualmie Pass, but lies much closer to a marine climate. Two years ago, World Cup test events there were canceled by rain and fog. Same thing last year.

How many warning signs does one organization get?

It's an embarrassment for Vancouver. And for the Games themselves.

Because lest there be any doubt, Cypress's top-shelf food service "does meet Olympic Games standards," The Sun quotes VANOC officials as saying.

Little doubt there. But here's guessing it doesn't meet Olympic Family standards.

VANOC also noted that it had placed the maximum number of food and drink facilities it could jam into the "relatively small venue."

Far as we know, the venue did not get smaller after VANOC made the mistake of picking it in the first place.

You can't blame that on the weather. Shrinkage doesn't apply to ski resorts.

Photo: A lack of snow has cursed Cypress Mountain outside Vancouver; Mike Siegel/Seattle Times.

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Blog roll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.